1 Nov 2005

Singapore not ashamed of low rank for press freedom

A lesson in how to take criticism and completely ignore it and continue on regardless. The so called journalists working on The Straits Jacket should be embarrassed though. What does he mean - develop a non-adversarial press, it already exists. As for claiming that the RSF report is based on a subjective western liberal prism, has anyone actually looked at their methodology. I never realised Goh had a PhD in Research Methodology.

I actually think that the ruling elite of men in white do favour a subserviant and unthinking press...

Saying something then doing and condoning the opposite tends to give the game away.

Tue Nov 1, 2005 4:46 AM GMT

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore should not be embarrassed by its lowly ranking on the international press freedom index because it has achieved top ratings for economic freedom and prosperity, its senior minister said.

Defending the city-state's model of press control, former prime minister Goh Chok Tong said the country should not subscribe to the Western model of a free press that favours criticism and opposition.

Instead, Singapore should develop a non-adversarial press that reported accurately and objectively.

"I do not favour a subservient press. An unthinking press is not good for Singapore. But press freedom must be practised with a larger sense of responsibility and the ability to understand what is in, or not in, our national interests," Goh said late on Monday, at the anniversary dinner of the Today newspaper.

Goh's comments come a week after an annual index produced by Reporters Sans Frontieres, a Paris-based media monitoring group, ranked Singapore 140th out of 167 countries -- up four notches from last year but still faring worse than tightly governed states such as Russia and Yemen.

In a report accompanying the publication of the latest index, Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) said Singapore's low ranking was due to the complete absence of independent media, the application of prison sentences for press offences, media self-censorship and the opposition's lack of access to state media.

The report also cited instances where the government used heavy fines or distribution bans on international newspapers such as the Asian Wall Street Journal, the Economist and the International Herald Tribune to "silence Singaporeans or foreign journalists" who wrote articles that embarrassed the political elite.

Goh said the RSF report was a "subjective measure computed through the prism of Western liberals".

He cited other surveys such as the Transparency International Index and the US-Based Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Index, in which Singapore received top ratings.

"My simple point is this: it has not been proven that having more press freedom would result in a clean and efficient government or economic freedom and prosperity," Goh said.

Singapore is known for heavy-handed censorship in the media and arts, largely enforced through a system of issuing publication and performance licences.

Run by the People's Action Party for 40 years, Singapore often gets top marks for its sound economic policies but lags other Asian countries when it comes to freedom of expression.

Last month, outgoing U.S. ambassador Franklin L. Lavin slammed the city-state's curbs on freedom of speech. In the same month, Warwick University dropped plans to set up a campus in Singapore because of concerns about academic freedom.


pleinelune said...

Typical gahmen response to any criticism.

parkaboy said...

"My simple point is this: it has not been proven that having more press freedom would result in a clean and efficient government or economic freedom and prosperity," Goh said.

Completely bizarre - but not uncharacteristic - inversion of the situation. The question isn't whether to encourage a free press or not, or not in those terms exactly. The question is not whether the free press encourage economic growth. The question is whether you have enough of a justification for making miserable the lives of people who spontaneously express opinions that differ from those that are in your interest. The onus is on the government to show that these restrictions have a value commensurate to their - crushing - detriments. When you consider the pattern of their actions - how they are so unabashedly directed towards propping up PAP rule, and the whitewashing of all dissent - it's little wonder that's an onus they've never fulfilled.

soci said...

you have picked up on what I think is the key quote."it has not been proven that having more press freedom would result in a clean and efficient government or economic freedom and prosperity"

The question seems to be who THE BURDEN OF PROOF falls on? Prove how a lack of Freedom of the press ensures 'clean government' and 'economic freedom'.

Are the high salaries of ministers merely commensurate with their skills and experience or 'institutionalised corruption'?

Can 'economic freedom' be claimed in a business community dominated by one family, who when accused of 'nepotism' drag the publication to the courts.

The RSF after conducting their study stated that "A committee set up by the government in April 2002 to review the existing censorship laws had recommended liberalization, but the government still had not adopted any policy for amending the press laws by the end of 2004."

And RSF have provided evidence in support of their argument that countries that have recently won their independence or have recovered it (within the past 15 years) are "very observant of press freedom and give the lie to the insistence of many authoritarian leaders that democracy takes decades to establish".

So where is Goh's evidence that the suppression of press freedom is necessary for Singapore's economic future?

yk81 said...

Since when has the gov't been embarrassed by anything that concerns freedom of expression and freedom of the press in SG? And since when has the local press report any controverial stuff objectively when it goes against the grain and that of their masters?

Don't we know all that already? Whenever the PAP is critized by outsiders, they either pretend nothing happened or diss its credibilty altogether.

And if it's praise by the same outsiders, it makes the front page news and the MIW keep harping on it.

"My simple point is this: it has not been proven that having more press freedom would result in a clean and efficient government or economic freedom and prosperity," Goh said.

At least Goh is honest here - that there is zero freedom of press in SG.